Proton Beam Radiation Therapy: Balancing Evidence-Based Use with the Bottom Line

May 17, 2010

Oncology Times

Stephen Hahn, MD, chair of the department of Radiation Oncology, is quoted in the latest story in an Oncology Times series about proton beam radiation therapy. "I believe that proton therapy will be one of those situations that will help people and in the process be profitable for health systems," he said of the high costs presently associated with the treatment. "Hopefully, it won't bankrupts the system, but if it something that can align patient's interest, research interests, and financial interests." Even if proton therapy can't deliver a cure to all patients, he cited the potential for proton therapy to improve patients' quality of life -- as, for instance, demonstrated by a recent trial showing that proton radiation for lung cancer patients minimized damage to their esophagus and lungs and led to fewer patients being admitted to the hospital for placement of feeding tubes -- as a key benefit and cost savings. He also outlined plans for a Penn partnership with Pro-Cure, the for-profit company that runs several proton therapy facilities around the nation, which will help to develop a national registry for cancer patients receiving proton therapy with the goal of establishing standard quality-assurance procedures across the centers and collecting enough patient information to publish meaningful outcomes data... read more